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Orioles Prospect Keegan Akin Piling Up Awards While Learning At Frederick

July 5, 2017
FREDERICK, Md. -- Keegan Akin has had a solid June. 

A year ago, the Orioles selected the 22-year-old left-handed pitcher in the second round of the June 2016 draft.
 
This June, Akin, who's pitching for the Class-A Frederick Keys, was named the Orioles' Minor League Pitcher of the Month. On the same day he received the organizational award, Akin was also named the Carolina League's Pitcher of the Week.
 
Akin was 3-1 in June with a 0.90 ERA in five starts for the Keys. He's now 6-5 with a 3.51 ERA after beginning the month with a 5.95 ERA. But Akin isn't satisfied with his season to this point.

"Definitely not the first two months. I got off to a bad start," Akin said. "It just wasn't what I wanted to start my season with. But I took a break a month-and-a-half ago, and it was much needed, mentally and physically, [to] kind of clear my mind … from there I just kind of took off."
 
Akin ended June with 7.2 no-hit innings before allowing a bloop single June 27, and he began July with five scoreless innings July 2.  
 
"My command's better. I've been throwing my pitches for strikes right now when I need to," Akin said. "Just getting weak contact and use my defense as much as possible."
 
Akin, who has been a bright spot for the Keys (35-47) this season, has intrigued the Orioles since last year's draft. In 2016, he had a 1.04 ERA in 26 innings for short-season Class A Aberdeen and was put on the fast track. He skipped over Low-A Delmarva, and after those first two difficult months in Frederick, he has thrived. That has led to speculation about a possible promotion to Double-A Bowie, but Akin won't engage in that talk.
 
"Down in spring training anything could happen," Akin said. "Coming out of spring training, they told me I was coming to Frederick. That was pretty exciting."
 
Akin grew up in Michigan and attended Western Michigan University. Because of Michigan's weather, Akin didn't get to play as much baseball as his contemporaries from California, Florida and Texas.
 
"The hardest thing I've noticed so far is throwing every five days. I really didn't do that in high school and definitely not in college," said Akin, who threw every Friday at Western Michigan.

"It's a big adjustment going from [a] seven-day rotation to a five-man rotation. It's definitely taxing. I could tell the difference, making that adjustment. I think I struggled with that early in the year. I just wasn't prepared enough. … I didn't know how to handle myself between starts."
 
Akin said he has noticed the difference in hitters between college and the pros.
 
"It definitely wasn't one through nine [in college]," he said. "It was usually one through four where their good hitters were at. You've got to worry about everybody, especially at home. At our ballpark, everybody can take you deep."
 
The minor league lifestyle is one filled with long bus rides and mediocre hotels and food, but none of that fazes Akin.
 
"It's exciting to go to all those new places. I like to see new ballparks," Akin said. "The travel is not fun. It's manageable compared to what I had to do in college. It's not that big of an adjustment. You get used to it quick. You can prepare for it."
 
Overall, professional ball is great, Akin said.
 
"I'd rather play every day than have three games and practice for five days," Akin said. "It's just more fun that way."